POCATELLO — The City Council has entered into a professional services agreement with Roger Chase that will utilize the former mayor’s expertise on water and land use issues.
Councilman Craig Cooper was the lone council member to vote against the oneyear consulting contract, which will pay Chase $1,500 a month. Chase, as the owner of Clearview Consulting, will assist the city on water rights acquisition issues.
He will also assist the city with issues at the Pocatello Airport associated with new land use ordinances the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are proposing.
The consulting agreement, which is being finalized by the city’s legal department, will include a termination provision that will enable either party to end the contract with 30 days notice.
Cooper said he wasn’t happy with the consulting agreement because he didn’t see any advantage for the city in it. Cooper said he felt the water issues the city is facing require more expertise than Chase has.
“I don’t see what Roger can bring to the city as a consultant,” Cooper said. “I just don’t see any advantage to it, quite frankly. If I feel strongly against something, I’m not going to vote for it.” The six-member council discussed the agreement at length during a regular study session Jan. 14. They voted 5-1 to approve it during Thursday’s council meeting.
The city’s legal department said the agreement is perfectly acceptable under Idaho law.
Chase said there are several water and land use issues the city is dealing with that need to be wrapped up quickly, and he saw this agreement as a way to help the city get through those issues while saving Pocatello some money.
“I’m not making a lot of money on it,” he said. “In my opinion, the city needs to close these deals in the next year.”
Chase said the agreement with the city is the smallest consulting contract he has, and the $1,500 per month charge would basically help him recover his costs.
“I think it’s something that needs to be done for the city and I almost feel there’s an obligation there,” he said during the study session. “At one time I thought, ‘Should I do this for free?’ and my wife kind of put the kibosh to that.”
Chase said he doesn’t view the agreement as a long-term contract and if the city can work through those issues earlier than planned, the contract can be canceled.
“The water issues we are dealing with are very complex,” he said. “I think we could do some things that would help the city save some money.”
Chase said the contract will be limited to a handful of critical issues, and he has told new Mayor Brian Blad that he can call him any time for assistance with other issues, such as economic development.
“We’ve invested a lot of money in these endeavors and we need to be able to finish these up, and I think Roger’s experience ... will help us finish them,” said Councilman Roger Bray.
Councilman Gary Moore said he believes the city would benefit by utilizing the experience of Chase, who’s well known for the enormous number of contacts he has at the local, state and national level.
The council and mayor can determine if the contract has been beneficial to the city and can always rethink it, Moore said. “But I have a lot of confidence in Roger’s ability, particularly on water issues,” he added.
Councilman Brian Underwood said Pocatello spends a large amount of money on water issues, including for litigation and engineering, and he believes the city can save some money by employing Chase’s 20-plus years of expertise in that field.
“We’re paying 25, 30 grand a month for this stuff,” he said. “I think (this) can work for all of us, financially as well as practically.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the city and I’m pleased you’re willing to do that for such a small fee as a consultant,” Council president Eva Nye told Chase.
Councilman Ron Frasure, who voted in favor of the agreement, said during the study session that he had some reservations with the contract and wanted to see more specific details of what exactly Chase would be working on. Those specifics are currently being negotiated by the city’s legal department.
January 26, 2010